Why Mobile Order-Ahead Is A Must-Have Ingredient For QSRs

Mobile Order-Ahead: A Must-Have for QSRs

To help serve diners who crave convenience, restaurants and solution providers have started to test and grow their mobile ordering services. The aim is to allow diners to place their orders – and even pay – before they ever set foot in a restaurant. And the concept is not unfamiliar to customers who, according to recent data, are already receptive to mobile technology.

The PYMNTS Mobile Order-Ahead Tracker found that 92 percent of customers enjoy using apps to order from a quick-service restaurant (QSR). And, while only 27 percent of QSR managers have a positive view of ordering and paying through a mobile app, solution providers are seeking to tackle their restaurant pain points.

From third-party apps like TwentyTables to the mobile technology of QSR chains such as Starbucks, technology is connecting restaurants with diners ready to place orders. These are some of the ways that mobile order-ahead technology connects diners with restaurants – and how these establishments stand to benefit from mobile order-ahead integrations.

The share of Starbucks’ U.S. mobile order sales in 2018 was 12 percent. In fact, Starbucks touted its increased digital sales, among other factors, as a growth driver during its first-quarter earnings report on Jan. 24. The company also noted that enrollment in its loyalty rewards program saw a year-over-year increase of 14 percent to arrive at 16.3 million. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in a conference call at the time, “this result was driven by leveraging our increased digital reach, as well as a more seamless customer onboarding experience, greater mobile order and pay adoption and enhanced personalization features. Between digitally registered and active [rewards] customers, we are now approaching 30 million digital connections in the U.S.”

Nearly all – 92 percent – of customers view placing a QSR order via mobile app positively. And not all apps are run by quick-service restaurants (QSRs) or third-party delivery aggregators. Feedback, a Canadian app, seeks to target food waste by offering deals during certain times at certain restaurants through a mobile order-ahead experience. To use the service, customers access a list of nearby restaurants through the app, and can tap on a specific restaurant to see which meals are available. In a previous PYMNTS interview, Feedback co-founder Josh Walters compared the user experience to Uber Eats or Grubhub in that consumers can create an order and check out in the app. The app then provides a receipt that consumers can present to a cashier when picking up their orders.

Almost three in 10 — or 27 percent — of QSR managers view ordering and paying through a QSR app as positive. But solution providers are tackling restaurants’ pain points to help make their services more palpable: SpeedETab and Epson America, for instance, teamed up to make an offering that lets QSRs print mobile order receipts to help staff better prepare for orders. In other cases, apps are seeking to help restaurants bring in more customers to eat in the dining room. TwentyTables Founder and CEO Alex Cohen noted in a previous PYMNTS interview that restaurants prefer his mobile order-ahead platform, which offers dine-in orders, because it can draw people in to purchase add-ons. In addition, the service can help generate foot traffic. “We are bringing people to your doorstep,” Cohen said. (Customers can also pick up orders at a restaurant with the app.) Through his service, customers pay a fixed price for meals ahead of time by purchasing tickets.

The average increase in check size for digital orders is 20 percent. And some new mobile order-ahead technologies – like the Jetson app – are tapping into voice ordering technology. The app also guides consumers through each step of the ordering process. If a customer orders from Chipotle, for instance, the app will walk the customer through each step to build a burrito or bowl by allowing them to choose from a variety of choices. At the same time, Jetson Founder and CEO Peter Peng designed the platform to provide some flexibility around ordering by allowing customers to order “Brussel sprouts” instead of, say, “charred Brussel sprouts with chili lime oil.”

And 50 percent of Pizza Hut’s 2018 U.S. sales were placed through QuikOrder. In fact, Yum! Brands announced in December that it would acquire QuikOrder, an online ordering software and service provider for the restaurant industry. Terms of the deal were not disclosed at the time of the announcement. By purchasing QuikOrder’s online ordering capabilities, the pizza chain said it would be able to improve its ability to deliver a personalized online ordering experience and speed up digital innovation across its over  6,000 U.S. restaurants. QuikOrder, which launched in 1997, focuses on developing and maintaining internet ordering systems that are used across the quick service restaurant (QSR) industry.

From QSRs like Pizza Hut to solution providers like QuikOrder, new technology is providing existing diners with more convenience and choice when it comes to ordering food and beverages at their favorite restaurants. And going forward, these options can not only help bring in new customers as well.